Since the video of Ted Williams went viral, and the public embraced this homeless man with the “golden radio voice,” I have been hopeful that his story would have a happy ending. Still, I had major concerns that Ted’s numerous TV appearances, job offers, consulting fees, family reunions, and meteoric rise to fame would overwhelm him and put his recovery in jeopardy. So, it didn’t surprise me when he admitted on The Dr. Phil Show that he had been drinking and announced his plans to seek treatment.
While the media was milking Ted’s ‘rise-to-fame’ story, I don’t believe enough attention was paid to what was best for him— putting his recovery first. People in early recovery, and those who are trying to achieve sobriety and adopt a recovery lifestyle are incredibly vulnerable. A common expression heard in support groups is “Don’t get too well too fast.” Over the past twenty-five years, I have seen several friends and colleagues relapse after inheriting money or achieving personal and financial success. One friend was in recovery until he inherited $30,000 from his uncle; he then started using and died from an overdose. For Ted, becoming an overnight celebrity may have been more than he could handle—and he should have hired a recovery coach before he hired a publicist.
Now that Ted is entering treatment, I hope those who were moved by his story and his voice do not withdraw their support. Seeking help is the first step toward recovery, and Ted needs and deserves our support now more than ever. If he truly immerses himself in treatment and commits to managing his recovery, one day at a time, for the rest of his life, he undoubtedly has a bright future ahead of him.
All too often, we hear stories of celebrities who have tried treatment time and again without success. We constantly see or hear about those who relapse, but the public needs to know that recovery is possible. You may not always see those of us in long-term recovery because we’re not in front of the cameras. We’re working, going to school, caring for our families, and contributing to our communities. Our colleagues and neighbors might not know it, but we’re managing and nurturing our recovery each and every day.
I was lucky enough to get the help and support I needed to sustain my recovery. I sincerely hope Ted also gets the help he needs—and I hope one day he recognizes, as I did, that recovery will bring greater rewards than he ever thought possible.
Deni Carise, Ph.D.
Chief Clinical Officer